Identifying stakeholders is an important step in creating effective communications as engineers. Stakeholders are those people or groups of people who have an interest in the success of your project. Depending on your project, you may have various tiers of stakeholders.

Your primary stakeholders are involved in your project and have a large impact on success. Your key stakeholder likely represents a potential client, executive, or head of research. This is a person who will ultimately decide if a design is successful. At this level, you might also have a project manager or course instructors. These people also have a say in and contribute to project success. You can also count your own team in this category and, potentially, any other teams you are collaborating with (separate teams of engineers and computer scientists, for example) to build a successful project.

Your secondary stakeholders care about project success, but they may not play a large role in the project. A mentor or consultant, for example, might fall into this category.

Finally, your tertiary stakeholders are those who may have an interest in your project but who don’t play an active role in its success during the design process. Other engineers, industry partners, or attendees at expos or conferences might fall into this category.

As you prepare communications necessary for your project’s success, keep these stakeholders and their needs in mind. They will have expectations,  information needs, and contributions to make based on their particular areas of expertise and assigned roles. Don’t forget to address these specifically, both by doing stakeholder analyses to learn about the best ways to communicate with your audiences and by using clear, direct language to explain how your communications are intended to meet their needs (and what they might be able to do with the information you are presenting them with).

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